News in Brief
Tisbury voters in a yes mood at special meeting
Tisbury voters were agreeable Tuesday evening, approving 13 of 15 warrant articles in about two hours at a special town meeting in the Tisbury School gymnasium.
The remaining two articles, concerning amendments to zoning bylaws, flummoxed so many voters that they agreed to take no action and sent them back to the building and zoning inspector and planning board for rewrites.
The meeting started about 10 minutes late, at 7:40, to allow time for a quorum of voters to assemble. Voters agreed to town moderator Deborah Medders's request to take up article one last, which sought approval for a presentation of a municipal facilities assessment report by the planning board. She then reverted to Tisbury's town meeting lottery system and
drew the number two as the next article to take up. A majority of voters approved a proposed spending plan for the money derived from ferry passenger fees, which involves establishing a permanent embarkation fees advisory committee that will review proposed expenditures for the money and make recommendations to the selectmen for inclusion in a warrant article.
A few voters expressed concern about the membership of the embarkation fee committee, which will include a selectman, and about losing some say in the process. Margaret Wolontis got a round of applause when she stated emphatically, "I feel there are too many committees already. I serve on several advisory committees and consider them a total waste of time."
Several Tisbury voters expressed enthusiasm about an article asking the town to provide an easement to Global Protection Communications System (GPCS). The easement will allow the company to construct a communication switching station for a fiber optic network on the Department of Public Works property, as a first step in creating an Island-wide fiber optic network.
Two articles regarding zoning bylaw amendments produced the most discussion. One asked voters to approve adding a sentence to the definition of an attached accessory structure that would prohibit plumbing or plumbing fixtures within the structure.
Although that would still allow people to have a water spigot on the outside of a shed or garage, many voters argued that they wanted to be able to have a sink or lavatory in their workshops or artist studios.
Another article proposed amending the zoning bylaw with a definition for an attached structure. At one point, as zoning and building inspector Ken Barwick and planning board co-chairman Tony Peak struggled to explain the convoluted wording, Ms. Medders brought the house down when she said helpfully, "You can use stick figures."
Voters decided to take no action on either article.
At the end of the meeting, planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson gave a half-hour power point presentation on the municipal needs assessment study.
A total of 125 voters, just 4.6 percent of Tisbury's 2,713 registered voters, attended the special town meeting. Tisbury will hold annual elections on April 15.
Firefighters move quickly amid high winds to stop Katama brush fire
Edgartown firefighters moved quickly Friday morning to quell a potentially dangerous Katama brush fire that was being fanned by winds gusting to more than 30 miles per hour.
Assistant fire chief Scott Ellis said that when he arrived at the scene, across from the Farm Institute fields, about a half an acre of underbrush was burning. "We got here within a few minutes," Mr. Ellis told The Times Friday as firefighters continued to hose down the area. "With the wind like this, it will drive the fire right into the woods fast. The rain we had yesterday helped."
The fire blackened underbrush along the road between Faulkner Drive and Harbor Bay Road. Firefighters managed to halt the flames before they could advance into nearby trees or threaten homes or farm buildings.
Mr. Ellis said the cause is not known.
Three Edgartown fire trucks responded to the fire, along with emergency medical personnel from Oak Bluffs. West Tisbury also responded with a brush breaker.
Date set to hire county manager
Dukes County commissioners will meet April 4 to hire a new county manager, after interviewing two finalists for the job Saturday. The manager's job has been vacant since August 2007, when E. Winn Davis resigned.
F. Tenney Lantz told the commissioners she would move to the Island immediately if offered the job.
Ms. Lantz is an attorney who lives in South Dartmouth. Most recently, she was the chief operating officer of the Girl Scout Council of Southeastern Massachusetts.
"I see the manager's position doing all the background work, identifying strategic roles that the commission might take and exploring those roles," said Ms. Lantz during her interview. "My interest is in moving forward, and being a little aggressive at times."
Also interviewed was Russell Smith, an Island resident who is currently the legislative liaison for state representative Eric Turkington. Mr. Smith said he would be willing negotiate an arrangement with the county commissioners that would allow him to keep his current part-time position. "I would be willing to work out any kind of trial period that you want," he told commissioners during his interview. "I have a long history of public service on the Vineyard. I thought I would be a good person for the job because of my experience and my skill sets."
Mr. Smith was among those interviewed last fall, but when neither he nor the other two finalists won enough votes to win the job, the commissioners chose to re-advertise the position with a higher salary.
The commissioners hoped to attract more qualified candidates by authorizing up to $75,000 for the manager's job. However, ongoing budget strains and the possibility that three county departments under the manager's control may be eliminated have changed the thinking of several commissioners, who advocate a lower salary and more limited responsibility for the manager's position.
Free state hunter education class offered
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will offer a free hunter education course in April. Successful completion of the state-certified course meets certain state firearms licensing application requirements, as well as out-of-state hunting license requirements. Pre-registration is required.
Under a recent change in state law, possession of a firearms identification card alone is no longer sufficient to apply for a Mass. hunting license.
Free hunter safety education courses across the state are widely credited with helping to reduce hunting accidents and create responsible hunters.
The class instructor is Jeff Day, a Chilmark police officer and master instructor. The basic class curriculum includes instruction on firearms safety, wildlife conservation, hunting with a bow, tree-stand safety and hunting ethics.
Space is limited, and this is the only on-Island class that will be offered this year, said Mr. Day. Students age 10 to 17 may take the class with parental permission. Students must attend all four sessions to successfully complete the course and receive a letter of completion.
The class schedule is: April 14 and 17 from 6 to 9 pm; and April 19 and 20 from 8 am to 3 pm. Classes will be held at the Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun Club, Third Street, Edgartown.
Students must pre-register with the Mass Wildlife Hunter Education program online at www.masswildlife.org or by calling 978-632-7648. For class information only, call instructor Jeff Day at 508-645-3310.
Tisbury Business Association welcomes candidates
The Tisbury Business Association will hold its annual breakfast buffet meeting 8 am Tuesday at the Black Dog Tavern on Beach Street Extension.
The guest speakers will be the two candidates for a seat on the Tisbury board of selectmen, incumbent Tommy Pachico and challenger Jeff Kristal.
New members are welcome. For more information or to RSVP, email email@example.com.
MassWildlife releases waterfowl survey results
Sea ducks abounded in Vineyard waters this winter, according to an annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey (MWS) conducted by MassWildlife along coastal areas of Massachusetts.
The count is notable for the large number of eiders and scoters counted in Massachusetts, according to a Mass Wildlife press release. The state total was 83,461 eiders and 24,000 scoters, 82 percent and 355 percent above their 10-year average. Included in this total is information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reporting 14,000 eiders and 19,000 scoters around Martha's Vineyard and 57,000 eiders and 1,300 scoters around Nantucket.
At 19,271, American black duck numbers were 5 percent above the 10-year average and the 5,133 mallards counted were a record high, but only 1 percent higher than the 2007 count.
Counts of most other ducks were slightly above or below their 10-year average. This was also true for Canada geese with 12,243 counted, but like mallards, many Canada geese, especially Massachusetts resident birds, winter on inland sites not surveyed by the coastal MWS. Brant numbers, which winter strictly on the coast, were 59 percent above average, with 2,916 counted.
Memorial service for David Wayfield
There will be a memorial service for David Wayfield today, at 2 pm, in the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Chapel. (Use the main lobby entrance.) In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of one's choice.
Sharky's Cantina welcomes new chef
Jonathan White is the new chef at Sharky's Cantina, the popular Mexican eatery on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Mr. White will be responsible for all kitchen operations, including Sharky's new restaurant that will open soon on upper Main Street in Edgartown.
Mr. White most recently worked in Vermont where he led culinary teams at some of Vermont's finest resorts for decades, according to a press release.
"It is an honor to join the Sharky's team," said Chef White, "My first goal is consistency, and as we move forward we will add specials and variations that allow our customers to explore new tastes and experiences all year long."
Sharky's co-owner JB Blau said the kitchen is in very talented hands. He said plans are to open Sharky's Edgartown on May 6. The Oak Bluffs location will remain open daily from 11 am to 12:30 am.